Yale Schola Cantorum | Christmas in Lübeck

Event time: 
Friday, December 11, 2015 - 12:00pm to 2:00pm
Christ Church New Haven See map
84 Broadway
New Haven, CT 06511
Open to: 
General Public
Event description: 

Preconcert talk at 4 PM









Jauchzet ihr Himmel  |  Andreas Hammerschmidt                                            

Gabriel Angelus  |  Salvatore Sacchi                                                                                                  

Magnificat 8. Toni cum laudibus

Magnificat  |  Hieronymus Praetorius                                                                                       


Vom Himmel hoch  |  Sethus Calvisius                                                                          

Freut euch und jubiliert  |  Calvisius

Gloria in excelsis Deo  |  Calvisius

Virga Jesse floruit  |  Michael Praetorius                                                                               

Joseph lieber, Joseph mein  |  Calvisius

Psallite unigenito  |  Michael Praetorius

Es ist ein’ Ros’ entsprungen  |  Hugo Distler

Corde natus ex parentis  |  Melchior Vulpius                                                                                               

Ein kleines Kindelein  |  Franz Tunder

Reges terrae congregate sunt  |  Jacobus Vaet                                                                                          

Siehe es erschien der Engel, SWV 403  |  Heinrich Schütz                                                                                                                    

Ihr lieben Christen, freut euch nun, BuxWV 51  |   Dieterich Buxtehude     



This concert transports us back to the seventeenth century in Lübeck, Germany. Musically, the city was most noted at the time for two organists, Franz Tunder and Dieterich Buxtehude, who presided over a very large organ at the west end of St. Mary’s Church, from which they presented both instrumental and vocal music. Meanwhile, the liturgical choral music of this important church was conducted by a succession of cantors from a choir loft at the east end of the church, and they assembled a large library of vocal music for this purpose, from which much of the music for this concert was drawn.

The program opens with a sacred concerto, Jauchzet ihr Himmel, published in 1658 by Andreas Hammerschmidt, one of the most popular composers of his day. This celebratory work includes trumpets and trombones, verses for two soloists, and a chorus for all the voices and instruments. Two dialogues featuring angels highlight the differences between renaissance and baroque musical style. The annunciation dialogue Gabriel Angelus, published in 1607 by the Italian composer Salvatore Sacchi, casts the entire work in renaissance double-choir style, giving the words of the angel Gabriel to an ensemble of soprano, alto, and tenor. Heinrich Schütz also employed polychoral style in Siehe es erschien der Engel des Herren Joseph im Traum, from Sacrae Symphoniae III (1650), but he entrusted the words of the angel to a soloist and added obbligato instruments. The earliest work on the program, Reges terrae congregate sunt, a five-voice motet published by Jacobus Vaet in 1568, was still being performed in Lübeck during the seventeenth century, as attested by a manuscript insertion in a printed partbook.

The only record of music performed at St. Mary’s Church during the seventeenth century is a booklet with the texts and scoring (but not the names of the composers!) of music for the Christmas season of 1682. “Corde natus ex parentis ante mundi exordia, &c” for 8 voices, performed at the afternoon service on Christmas Day, is almost certainly the setting by Melchior Vulpius that we hear today. The choir library contains two sources for it, the popular anthology Florilegium portense (1618) and a manuscript copy from later in the century. At that same service they performed a Magnificat “cum laudibus,” with interpolations of six popular Christmas carols between the verses, a German tradition still preserved in the early version of J. S. Bach’s Magnificat from 1723. In this concert we use a polychoral Magnificat by Hieronymus Praetorius, a Hamburg organist who brought copies of his Opus musicum to all the churches of Lübeck in 1622. The interpolated laudes are settings by Sethus Calvisius (1603) and Michael Praetorius (1605) of the same texts used in Lübeck in 1682.

The three works on this program by Lübeck composers—Buxtehude, Tunder, and Hugo Distler—do not come from the cantors’ choir library. Tunder’s Ein kleines Kindelein is a straightforward aria for soprano and strings, while Buxtehude’s Ihr lieben Christen, freut euch nun is a multi-movement cantata for solo voices, chorus, and instruments, including trumpets, trombones, and cornetti. It is preserved in a late Lübeck manuscript, into which Buxtehude himself inserted the music for the movement “So komm doch Jesu, komme bald.” He could thus have composed it around the time that J. S. Bach traveled to Lübeck in 1705 in order “to comprehend one thing and another about his art.” Hugo Distler worked as organist at St. Jacobi in Lübeck from 1931 to 1937; Es ist ein’ Ros’ entsprungen is drawn from his Weihnachtsgeschichte, composed during this time. In his setting of this Christmas hymn best known in the version by Michael Praetorius, Distler artfully worked the chanted German Magnificat in its traditional tonus peregrinus, sung by a solo soprano, into the choral setting of the third verse of the hymn.


                                                                                Notes by Kerala J. Snyder